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TIFFCOM, the affiliated market of Tokyo International Film Festival, will remain as an online only event for the third year. It will run for three days, Oct. 25-27, 2022, in parallel with the early part of the film festival.

The Tokyo market’s decision to stay as an exclusively virtual event comes at a time when film and TV markets and festivals in other countries are returning to in-person meetings after the COVID-19 pandemic. And it reflects Japan’s caution in reopening the country to foreign visitors.

In recent weeks, Japan said that it will again welcome foreign tourists. But these are currently restricted to organized tour groups, not individual travelers, and visitors must wear masks at all times in public.

The Tokyo festival (Oct. 24- Nov. 2, 2022) is planning to hold physical events in the Hibiya-Ginza-Yurakucho-Marunouchi area where it moved last year after years being centered in the Roppongi district.

Contacted by Variety, the Tokyo festival said that it hopes to have the participation of “as many foreign guests as possible” in 2022, including overseas media, and that they could use the “business track” immigration system.

Since the early days of COVID, Japan has suspended visa exemptions for visitors from many countries, making the entry process considerably more onerous.

The business track system, originally suspended in January 2021, has now been restarted. Potential Tokyo festival and TIFFCOM visitors from overseas will need letters of invitation in order to use the business track and have to apply for visas.

TIFFCOM Online announced Wednesday that companies can apply for virtual booths on its site. It has also started selling badges to buyers and other visitors.

Market functions will include lists of participants, search assistance, interest notification and the ability to schedule meetings through the system.

According to its annual report TIFFCOM last year featured the participation of 1,935 visitors, including 584 registered as buyers. It facilitated 2,536 business meetings. The market’s website was accessed 175,000 times, a figure roughly five times greater than the 35,000 sessions in 2020, the first year of online-only activity.

Organizers said that the content of the market has expanded to include films, TV, animation, mobile, internet (OTT, VOD), home entertainment (DVD, Blu-ray), inflight entertainment, new media (CGI, digital, VR, AR), original stories (novels, comics), book adaptation, remakes, character licensing, IP, games, toys, events and concerts, music, post-production services, translation services, local culture and tourism.